New York Jets Breece Hall may develop into a superstar, but what can we expect his rookie year? What have other elite running backs done their rookie year?
As the 2022 season grows closer, the excitement surrounding Breece Hall is on the rise. And if you have been following the Jets training camp it is easy to understand why. Breece Hall is showing the same flashes he did in college as the eye catching best player on the Iowa State offense. If Breece hits his ceiling, there is no reason he couldn’t become a franchise altering player.
While at Iowa State, Breece Hall tore opposing defenses apart with great consistency. Hall did not waste anytime when he got to the college level. He scored 3 touchdowns and rushed for 132 yards in his first game as a freshman, He finished his freshman season with an impressive 897 rushing yards, and added 252 more with 23 receptions. He hit double digits in touchdowns with 10 dances in the end-zone, 9 coming from the ground, and one in the air.
That was just the beginning for Breece Hall. In his sophomore year he rushed for over 100 yards in a game 8 straight times. He led the FBS in rushing yards tallying 1,572 on 279 chances. He got home 21 times on the ground. He remained a weapon as a receiver grabbing 23 passes for the second year in a row and added 2 additional touchdowns to his total. He was easily awarded the title of first team All-American, and was named offensive player of the year.
After tallying 1,774 in total yards, and reaching pay dirt 23 more times in his second season, Breece Hall had accomplished enough to enter the 2022 NFL draft and become the 1st Running Back selected by the NY Jets in the 2nd round with the 36th overall pick. Joe Douglas was so determined to add this talented young man to the team, he traded up with the NY Giants to secure him. We would find out later that Breece Hall was ranked in the top 20 on the Jets draft board.
Why did Breece Hall slip to the 2nd round? In any other era of football Breece Hall would have arguably been a top 10 pick. But with the speed and power of defenders in today’s game, running backs tend to slow down at an earlier age. Because of the loss in longevity, the position had declined in value significantly. But from a talent perspective, Breece Hall was rated the best running back in the country by most analysts. His ceiling is as high as any NFL running back that has come before him.
Tony Dorsett’s rookie year:
So what can Jets fans expect from Breece Hall his rookie year? Well let’s consider two elite running backs from past years and operate under the assumption that Breece is going reach his ceiling and have a successful career as an elite back. Does that mean he will definitely be elite his 1st year in the league? For him to be elite, does Breece need to be a top 8 running back in 2022?
Let’s start with Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett. Dorsett tallied 12,739 yards and 77 touchdowns in his 12-year career. He had 7 seasons where he eclipsed 1,100 yards rushing. He went over 1,300 yards 4 times in his career, and amazingly ran for over 1,600 yards in 1981. During his rookie season, in just 14 games, Tony broke 1,000 rushing yards. He also put up 12 touchdowns on the ground, which ironically, stood as his career high.
Tony Dorsett got off to a great start, his 4.8 yard per carry was tied for 1st in his entire career. He was an excellent rookie and left no doubt he was going to have a great career, but we did not see his highest numbers right from the start. Realistically, we can hope that if Breece Hall is destined to be a elite player, we may see some great production from him right away and not have to wait for him to develop in the league over time. But is it guaranteed he will thrive his rookie year even if if he is destined for greatness?
A recent example:
Now let’s look at one of today’s premier running backs, Derrick Henry. Derrick is still playing so we will not tally his career stats just yet but let’s look at his last healthy season in 2020. Henry rushed for 2,027 yards and put up 16 rushing touchdowns. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry. It is also worth noting that he rushed for 937 yards in just 8 games last year with 10 touchdowns. He is without question, a dominant running back, and any Jet fan would be thrilled if Breece Hall ever put up similar numbers.
But was Derrick Henry dominant from the start? Does a NFL running back need to be dominant his rookie year in order to have an elite career. Let’s take a look. Henry rushed for just 490 yards his rookie year in 15 games. He scored 5 times on the ground. To be fair, he did average 4.5 yards per carry and showed promise. But he did not take the league by storm and have fans all over the country worried he would become the problem he is today.
The New York Jets fanbase has every reason to be excited. Breece Hall is a fantastic prospect and could become the best homegrown talent at the running back position in 40 years, since the days of Freeman McNeil. His record breaking 24 consecutive games with a touchdown in college is beyond impressive. The streak shows his consistency and durability. He has every bit the potential to be an elite NFL player. Perhaps franchise changing. But should we expect that this season in 2022?
Expectations are a tricky thing. When expectations are set too high even great results can be disappointing. The reality is simple. A player’s rookie year does not define their career. Breece Hall does not have to have a 1,000 yard season right out of the gate. As nice as it would be to see instant production, fans may have to settle for improvement throughout the season. On the other hand, it is not impossible that Breece Hall will crush it out of the gate. It’s a wait and see situation.
Did I mention he can catch passes as well?